February 12, 2015 / 8:31 PM / 3 years ago

U.S. Transportation Dept pushes tough oil train standards, sources

WASHINGTON/OTTAWA, Feb 12 (Reuters) - The U.S. Transportation Department has recommended crude oil trains be reinforced and advanced braking systems installed to prevent future accidents from becoming fiery disasters, according to sources familiar with the plan.

The proposal, which now faces a White House review, envisions safety improvements that public advocates endorse but oil and rail leaders have said would mean high costs for modest safety gains.

The plan would require adding an extra 1/8th inch of steel to most existing oil train tank shells, while new models would have the thicker hull installed on the factory floor.

Future tank cars would also be fitted with electronically controlled pneumatic brakes, or ECB, which would trigger all axles simultaneously rather than one at a time in current design.

It would take at least $3 billion over the next 20 years to enact the plan, according to a government estimate, but oil and rail leaders see much higher costs they say would needlessly hinder a sector that has helped push a national energy renaissance. (Reporting by Patrick Rucker in Washington and David Ljunggren in Ottawa; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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